Maybe Nations Stink
Copyright 2009, John Manimas Medeiros
Maybe the United Nations is just a higher level of organized colonialism. Why do we assume that nations are better than tribes? If we want to be scientifically objective, there is considerable evidence that human beings are made for life in tribal society, the extended family, the clan, the community, groups as small as two hundred and rarely larger than five thousand. The nations of the world behave as though they have never even conceived of the possibility that the nation is inferior to the tribe as the most functional unit of human society.
The nation is not all good. The nation is a problem. National governments use a substantial set of contrivances to promote and maintain loyalty to the nation: a flag, a national song, identification of national traditions, foods, dress, a constitution, stories, literature and film, the careful management of history, all to glorify and edify the nation, the idea of nationhood, nationalism, kill the subhuman enemy. Nations assume that they are the evolutionary success that follows and is a natural improvement on the tribal society. But nations appear to do only two things better than tribal society: one, produce far more material goods than are needed; two, prosecute war far more violently and destructively than a tribal society is able to -- except when the tribe has money or mineral rights that they can trade for the devastating weapons made by and sold to them by nations. To be more precise, tribal groups can obtain (purchase, borrow or receive as a "gift") awesomely destructive weapons from members of the United Nations Security Council: United States of America (arsenal of democracy, or arsenal of whatever), Great Britain, France, Russia, China. So, the tribal societies of the world know very well what the nations of the world have to offer: money, weapons, war, enslavement and prostitution.
The repetitive pattern of cultural oppression is similar throughout the last three hundred years. The nation -- or coalition of the willing -- arrives with money and a navy and an army. Since the 1920's, add an air force. The nation is interested in buying something from the tribe, usually an agricultural or mineral resource. Then the men are hired to work in the fields or mines: cut sugar cane, pick bananas, dig for diamonds, or tin, or chromium, or drill for oil, or raise rubber or cut down hardwood trees, and on and on. While the men gradually forget how to live on the resources of their native lands, the women are retrained to forget how to be a homemaker and become a prostitute for their men and for the colonizers from Europe, then from the United States, and now from the United Nations.
The nations appear to be so rich. The nations appear to be so powerful. They have amazing weapons. They produce fantastic wars, such as the colonial wars, revolutionary wars, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean Police Action (this is when the United Nations started acting like a nation), the Vietnam War, lots of "little wars" too numerous to mention, and most recently the United Nations acting again, but somewhat divided, in Iraq. Could it be that this division in the nations that are supposed to be united means some of the nations have begun to smell the stink of their own bodies? Maybe some of the nations remember their original purpose: peace. And they struggle with the concept that peace is created by destroying the enemy. This is not the teaching of Jesus Christ, yet so many of the nations that sell weapons and use them for terribly destructive wars claim to be "Christian." Are their wars "Christian" wars, or "United Nations" wars, or just the plain ordinary behavior for nations in general? Anyone who opposes a nation is a rebel, or guerilla, or insurgent, or terrorist. This is the ultimate propaganda of the superiority of the nation -- anyone apposed to the economic interests of a nation, or the nations, is the enemy of reason. We now have the G-8, G-12, G-20, the assembly of the nations that use their power to control the world. Is this good? Is this the fountain of freedom?
When did the United States become a seller of weapons? Before the ink was dry on the Constitution. Check with your history resource, whether it be an Internet search engine, a real library, or your local history professor. The United States sold weapons from its birth. The United States is and always has been an arms dealer. The United States government does not want any limits on its ability to produce and sell weapons. This is one of the things that nations do better than tribes, so far. What about the materialism and rampant social problems in the United States? The right of the commercial class to intrude into the mind of a citizen and advertise, blare and shout at anyone who happens to be at rest or working or possibly thinking, possibly thinking about some public policy or how to vote -- stop that thinking and listen to us. There is a sale going on you idiot! You need more! You can save money by buying more NOW? The blare of advertising is everywhere, in the markets, department stores, on the streets, wherever there is a radio -- car, workplace, factory, office, public bathroom, buy this now or we will kill you! This is something that nations do well, turn the person and citizen into a prisoner of the commercial class. You are our customer. We own you. You must listen to us tell you what to cook for dinner, how to buy and prepare food, how to clean yourself, how to eat, how to sleep, how to live, how to die (At war is the best way. You can get a medal for killing people while under stress.)
So the nations think they are great, the greatest, the evolutionary pinnacle of human society. But maybe we should question that proposition? The literature and film of the west, and east, also tells us that there is something missing from society in a nation. There is alienation, loneliness. The sense of belonging is clouded, confused or absent. There is a loss of "family values." This is an understatement. The truth may be that there is a loss of family membership. For the many thousands of years of human society prior to 1700, all humans lived in tribal societies: agricultural communities, small towns, villages, clans, extended families. The fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology all tell us that the tribe or clan, or large extended family, is the natural form of organization for human beings. And it is equally common for a youth seeking a mate to be strongly advised, or compelled, to find a mate from outside the immediate clan or family. This is not just a social custom, it is biologically based. Humans have known for a very long time that "inbreeding" leads to a deterioration of quality in the human being.
What about the other things that nations have done? Such as: destroyed much of the Gulf of Mexico, caused environmental damage on a planetary scale, the extinction of many plants and animals, and an ongoing threat of extinction of vast numbers of plants and animals being poisoned or harvested out of existence. Even a few human tribal groups were extinguished. Is this a good price for what the nation has to offer? Let's get to the question that many people do not want to hear? Should nations be abolished? Are they too destructive in balance, the costs far exceeding the benefits? The nation brought us the atomic bomb and the intercontinental missile. No tribe left out of range. There seems to be a song in the air, and it is not "The hills are alive with the sound of music." The song in the air is "You will become a nation or we will destroy you. You will become extinct. Work for us or die."
What should the tribal societies do about this problem, the nations that prowl the world like Bengal tigers eating children? First, recognize that there are more tribes and more tribal members than the nations openly acknowledge. The successful aspects of tribal society is a secret that the nations don't want their citizens to hear about. The only things that citizens of nations hear about tribes is that they are poor (because we made them poor; they used to be rich), they are sick (because we brought them new diseases), and they are primitive (because they have not yet learned to buy our labor-saving devices), and they are dirty (because they live far closer to nature than we do and they prefer wood and clay to steel and plastic).
It appears that the United Nations does not have a serious plan to help people live in their traditional tribal societies. The United Nations appears to believe that the only good thing that can happen to a tribe is that it disappear into the formation of a nation, until there are no tribes and only nations, because nations are naturally better than tribes. The tribes need to respond to this historical assumption. The tribes need to oppose this assumption that nations are superior to tribes and clans and they need to assert positively that tribal societies have rights and their rights need to be respected. Look at what we (nations) have done. I remember the film Viva Zapata! which was possibly the film that started the stardom career of Marlon Brando. This is the heart-rending story of native Indios of southern Mexico rebelling against the oppression of the Mexican national government. The people did not want to be part of a nation. They were happy as they were in a tribe. There are rumors that many of the people of southern Mexico still prefer tribal society to the nation, which they consider oppressive. Look at what the Americans "del norte" have done. Those who think they are the greatest defenders of freedom in the world. They destroyed native cultures, caused hundreds of tribes to lose track of their language and many of their customs and the way of life that they preferred, and many still prefer. Native Americans in the United States have not given up their loyalty to tribal society and they persist, waiting perhaps, for the people of the nation called "The United States" to awaken to the depth of their ancestors' crime.
The pattern has been similar everywhere. There are tribal societies still under attack on every continent and island: the exceptionally respectable aborigines of Australia, Amazonian tribes in Brazil, New Zealand, Indonesia, Central Asia, all over Africa of course, including the durable "bushmen" (and bush women) and in parts of Europe. In Europe -- home of the modern nation -- there is the phenomenon of "native customs" or "local customs" where citizens can dress up and dance and eat traditional foods on holidays and make a kind of connection with their tribal, clannish past. But it is a tourist business in the network of national commerce. People play at being in the past, while they still have the national power to assure that no one will ever go back to being an independent tribe. How could tribes have been bad, or weak, if they sustained the human species for five hundred thousand years? One could debate the good and the bad elements of tribal societies. They were often oppressive in their own way. They were too stable. There was little or no room for change much of the time. But still, many tribes did experience progress. One of the outstanding strengths of tribal society is how some human groups came to master the harshest environments: the rain forest jungles, the bone-dry deserts, places without trees or rivers, even living on the water instead of on land. The adaptability of the tribe is astounding. But what really happens when a boatload or planeload of "nationals" is stranded on an island? Does anyone really survive? Or do they just have a war to end their lives with the nationalist version of dignity?
What should the tribal societies do? I have a suggestion. The tribes of the world should imitate the United Nations, and use the propaganda of the United Nations against them. Do not accept the assumption so deeply held that it is not even noticed, the assumption that tribal societies are "underdeveloped nations" who are needy and in the charitable care of the United Nations of the world, who are so generous with the wealth that they have stolen from all of the tribes. Imitate the United Nations -- call for a meeting of representatives of tribal societies from all over the world, all the continents, all the islands. Call this congress something like "The United Tribal Societies Organization," and compose -- only in tribal languages -- a declaration of your rights and your own ideas about where your rights and authority arise. But besides tribal ideas about human rights and human dignity, use also the United Nations documents on the rights of citizens and the Declaration of Independence from the American Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen from the French (European) Revolution. State that your right to self determination and your right to live in tribal society instead of in a nation, is an "inalienable" right, a right given by God or Nature or the Cosmos. In other words, tell the United Nations to go to hell. Tell them that you don't care how proud and rich and powerful the nations are, either individually or together. Tell them that you do not care how united the United Nations are or think they are, but from your viewpoint they are giant pigs who are destroying the life-supporting planet that sustains human life and all that is good on Earth, and you wish that the nations of the world would go away and let human beings live in peace in their tribes. And although it is true that tribal societies engage in warfare, they only hurt and kill a few people, they do not do such things as kill a hundred thousand people with one bomb, and they do not blow off the arms of children who are playing, and they do not over-harvest or poison animals and plants into extinction. And although the material wealth and military power of a nation is enviable, it is worth less than the honor and natural beauty and real freedom of living in a tribe. Assert that tribal society is morally superior to nationalism. It is.
The ideal form of human organization would be a national government to provide for public health and economic security, but with real protection for the natural environment and real protection for the right of people to live in a tribe or clan or extended family unit. This means that the commercial class has to give up its control of national governments. The materialism and violence-making military machines of the nations has to be dissolved and replaced with mechanisms that make the world safe for the extended family, the clan and tribe. The individual is not free so long as nations possess the capacity to initiate a war between nations. A war between nations, any war between one nation and another, is a threat to human survival that is too high a price to pay for pizza, coffee and television, accompanied by landfills the size of the Alps. Let my people go. Moses, the founder of the modern three "Abrahamic" religions of "the Book," Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three religions that brought the world from the manor to the nation, threw ten plagues at the nation of Pharaoh -- so the story says -- so that his people could escape into the desert and live in freedom, as twelve tribes. If the Israelis and Palestinians could only see who they are and what they have in common. They are people who do not want to be nations; they want to be tribes. Are people free to live in tribal society today? Is anyone going to be allowed to choose to be a tribe instead of a nation? This is a question for the (United?) Nations, and the (united?) tribes.
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